PUEBLO, Colo. – On Championship Sunday at the 2017 PBR World Finals, Eduardo Aparecido unpacked his bull rope and kept his eyes focused on the ground.
Aparecido was one of the most dominating riders throughout the course of the season, but with the year down to its final day it was clear his pursuit of winning a World Championship was going to have to wait another year.
Aparecido’s 2-for-5 performance at the World Finals, including three straight buckoffs to begin the Finals, ultimately proved costly for him.
After spending a PBR-best six months atop the world standings, Aparecido went back home to Guvolandia, Brazil, following a fourth-place finish in the 2017 world title race.
Aparecido voiced his disappointment during the PBR’s Global Cup in Edmonton, Alberta, earlier this month.
“I was really focused to be the World Champion, but if you don’t make the World Finals good, you will not be the World Champion,” Aparecido said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “Yeah, I am disappointed, but I will pick up my head and move on to the next one.”
Aparecido is home in Brazil for the offseason following a career-best year. He will not compete until the 2018 PBR Premier Series opener at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 5 in New York.
The six-year veteran led the PBR with 44 qualified rides and a 51.16-percent riding average – both career-highs – and finished a personal-best No. 4 in the world standings.
Aparecido also set career-highs in event wins (3), 15/15 Bucking Battle victories (2) and 90-point rides (3).
“I was disappointed because I was riding real good the whole year,” Aparecido said. “I was working hard for that (championship). I am not disappointed in my year because I still rode good this year. I wasn’t hurt. I just came to the Finals and it was not good for me. I am blessed to ride the whole year without being hurt and to be the leader for a couple of months.”
Aparecido failed to gain separation from his opponents – Jess Lockwood, Derek Kolbaba, Cooper Davis and Kaique Pacheco – in October, which played a role in his ultimate demise.
After increasing his lead to 365 points with back-to-back third-place finishes in Uniondale, New York, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aparecido went 4-for-8 for only 57.5 world points in the final three regular-season events.
He began the Finals 142.5 points out of the world No. 1 spot before losing it when Lockwood won Round 1 in Las Vegas.
Aparecido received praise for accepting a re-ride option in Round 1 after riding Coopers Comet for 77.25 points. However, he later failed to ride Fire Rock (3.84 seconds) after getting another re-ride attempting to ride Striker.
Could keeping the low score maybe have been a difference-maker in the world title race? Even if it was more of a mental advantage knowing he wasn’t a full bull behind eventual World Champion Lockwood following Round 1?
“The score for me would have been like a 0,” Aparecido said when asked if he may have regretted the decision. “The format (the point system) is now, 77.5 points is like a zero. I was looking for the round win or to place in the Top 5. That is why I chose to take my re-ride and try to get a big score.”
Aparecido wound up finishing the season 663.34 points behind Lockwood.
He believes he doesn’t have to change anything when it comes to 2018.
For Aparecido it is simple. Ride the same way he did in 2017, but finish the job at the World Finals and he can win the 2018 world title.
“I am not going to change nothing,” Aparecido concluded. “I need to relax and not think much about next year. I am going to continue to do things the same as this year. Ride the same way. I just didn’t have a good Finals.
“I am going to do the same, and I hope next year I will be the champ.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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